I get a lot of audio questions via email.
I try to answer them as well as I can but sometimes I need to write a post about them instead.
I don’t think any of these questions are stupid. To me, there are no stupid questions. However, there are misguided questions that miss the point so I feel like it’s my job to shed some light on the issue.
Here’s one email I got this week:
“When ever I ask most professional music producers around me “what is the secret behind high def sounds/music”….what they always tell me is”spend a lot and your music will sound professional”….so please tell me, do you agree with them!…I mean do you believe in getting a $1000 mic/interface or maybe a $700 $DAW to make your music sound professional??”
It’s similar to this one I got a few weeks ago:
“Hello! I am a music producer and I have been following up on your posts. I want to invest in my studio for a 9 month album production. I would like to know the best DAW in the world for PC so I can buy it for the project…I want the high end professional DAWS.”
Better Gear Does Not Equal Best Results
Let’s talk about the first statement that you need to “spend a lot” and your music will sound “professional.” Although you do need a certain level of quality equipment to record decent sounding audio you do not need a $1,000 mic and interface to sound professional.
That said, I’m not advocating buying the cheapest gear and expecting it to sound like a high-end commercial studio. I’m saying that there is a starting point that costs less that will get you very close to professional results.
A $1,000 mic is probably going to sound better than your $100 mic, but it won’t sound 10x as good. What makes the mic sound good is really what you do with it.
A lot of the quality you’ll hear is not from the mechanics of the microphone but from the skills that you use (skills I teach in Recording & Mixing Strategies:
- Recording a great performance
- In a treated room
- Without clipping the signal
So to answer the first question, no, I don’t agree with them.
Expensive equipment is nice to have, but it’s not a must-have. -Click to tweet
DAWs Have NOTHING to Do With Production Quality
Now we get to the most misguided question of all:
“What’s the Best DAW?”
I can answer it the same way as I answer the question: Which exercise is the best?
The answer is: The one you like the most!
The best DAW is the one you’re most familiar with that helps you get the job done. It is a tool to make great music but one is not necessarily better than the other.
Sure, they all have different things going for them:
- Pro Tools is used a lot in professional studios for recording and mixing (but that doesn’t mean studio not using ProTools aren’t professional).
- Logic Pro is preferred in a home studio setting, especially with singer/songwriters because of its software instruments and writing aids such as loops and beats that quickly help you throw an arrangement together.
- Ableton Live is popular with electronic musicians.
- Reaper is popular with everyone who doesn’t want to shell out a lot of money while still getting a great DAW.
I can go on but you get the picture. The DAW that’s best for you is the one that helps you create most effectively. It’s the one you’ve most familiar with.
For instance, in Quick Mixing I use Logic Pro to show you how to mix. I stop the video every ten minutes and talk you through all my EQ moves, compression settings and reverb choices.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn something about EQ, compression, reverb and mixing in general, even if you don’t use Logic Pro. An EQ is an EQ, whether you’re using it in Pro Tools or Logic. And with third-party plug-ins you might even be using the same plug-ins sometimes anyway.
In Quick Mixing I use the simple stock plug-ins that come in Logic Pro, very similar to the ones available in any DAW you choose.
In the end it’s not about the DAW, it’s about your engineering skills. So instead of focusing on which equipment to use and which DAW to buy to get the “best sound” it’s more important to focus on learning how to get the most out of the gear you have and the DAW you want by investing in the skills you need to make that happen.
Take Quick Mixing out for a test drive and let me know if it helps you improve your audio skills, regardless of your equipment or DAW: